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8 tips for managing your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

4/13/2020 (Permalink)

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1. Find ways to socialize

Even if it's a phone call or stepping outside to see a neighbor, Bishop said social connections are important for mental health.

"Find time, even virtually, to spend time with people that you enjoy," Bishop said.

Bishop also encouraged people to reach out to folks they know who are missing out on a celebration — like birthday or graduation — because of the coronavirus. Those people might appreciate that someone is thinking of them.

2. Keep working (if you can)

Bishop said humans have an ingrained desire to do work that contributes to the betterment of their community.

She encouraged people to keep up with their work, even if the setting has changed and they are now forced to work from home.

Unfortunately, many people have and will lose their jobs because of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve predicted that 47 million Americans would end up losing their jobs.

For those who are not employed, Bishop said there might be some volunteer opportunities — like bringing food to an elderly person — that could provide fulfillment.

3. Exercise

A jog or long walk can do wonders after a stressful day. Research has found that physical exercise can help people feel more energetic, sleep better at night, feel more positive about themselves and reduce their risk for major depression.

4. Stay positive for the kids

While all the changes brought about by the coronavirus have been stressful for adults, Bishop said it's important to recognize that children have had their routines uprooted as well.

Bishop said the best way to guide children through this new reality is to be straightforward and positive.

"Kids take their cues from us as parents," Bishop said. "If we act like this is something that we can handle, then they are going to feel like it's something they can handle, too."

5. Pick up a hobby

With stay-at-home orders in effect in Springfield and Greene County, many people in the area have more free time than usual.

Bishop encouraged folks to stay active during their idle time by picking up a new hobby or renewing an old one — like knitting, writing or woodworking — rather than constantly refreshing Twitter for the latest news on the virus.

The goal, Bishop said, is to reach a state of "flow," where you are fully absorbed in an activity and lose track of time.

6. Don't neglect your spirituality

During these uncertain times, Bishop said it's important for people to stay connected to their spirituality.

That could mean religion for some, or simply a recognition that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, Bishop said.

Participating in online church services or just going outside to appreciate nature could be ways to maintain one's spirituality during the isolation.

7. Unplug from social media

Bishop said it's important for people to try to remain in the present and not get too caught up worrying about the future.

"Anxiety is about the future and it robs us of the present," Bishop said.

She said learning to appreciate all of the positive things in our lives, no matter how small, will go a long way toward being able to thrive during these next several weeks.

8. Seek help if you need it

The Betty and Bobby Allison Ozarks Counseling Center is remaining open and shifting its focus toward video conferencing.

Bishop said the counseling center is taking new clients during this time if people feel like they need help maintaining their mental health.

Appointments can be scheduled by calling 417-869-9011, and clients pay based on a sliding scale that takes into account annual income and household size.

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